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India Takes the Baton to Host 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

The UNCCD was born 25 years ago and it was focussed initially on efforts to combat desertification in Africa, but now they are 197 countries being party to the convention. It is also the only UN body that is intelligibly concerned with land degradation, especially in the Anthropocene age where the human activity has a predominant influence on climate change and the environment. 

India is signatory to the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD) and is hosting the 14th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention to combat Desertification. We are committed to combat desertification and land degradation and bring it to a neutral status by 2030 says The Hon’ble Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate change,  Mr Prakash Javedkar at the Curtain Raiser at New Delhi. 

The conference will take place from 2 to 13 September 2019 at the India Expo Center & Mart, Greater Noida, in Delhi-NCR. The 12-day event, hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) will be attended by 5,000 participants, including 3000 international delegates from 196 countries & environment ministers from 94 countries.

India stands at a threshold where desertification and degradation of land remains a major threat to the country. In the UNFCC Conference of the Parties in Paris in 2015, India did  join the challenge by pledging to bring restoration of 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020 and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030. In addition to that we now pledge to restore 50 lakh Hectares at the UNCCD COP14.The global conference will review the progress made, especially during the last two years, to control and reverse further loss of productive land from desertification, land degradation and drought. Case studies, concrete actions are all part of the Conference.  

COP14 will also host thematic days that focus on the different areas of work of the convention. They include a day of synergies (3 Sept), Morning to Think about Green Environment and Afternoon to Gender Caucus (4 Sept) Science day and GEF Evening (5 Sept), a Sand and Dust Storms Day (6 Sept), the GEF day (9 Sept), the Day of Action for Land (10 Sept), a drought Day (11 Sept) and Day of Land Degradation Neutrality (1 Sept). 

Shri Narendra Modi, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India is expected to attend the event. Some of the distinguisehd participants include Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General, UN, Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the noted Indian Spiritual Leader, Baaba Maal, Senegalese singer and Guitarist and many more. 

Today over 1.3 billion species is on the verge of extinction largely due to biophysical impacts of land degradation and drought. The dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are very intimately connected. The Convention is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land degradation and to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land and thereby improve the livelihoods and reduce the impact of drought on vulnerable populations. 

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